Expert: Jill Weisenberger, RDN, author of Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week (American Diabetes Association, 2012)

What it means: The acronym DASH—short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension—explains the purpose of this popular diet. “DASH was created and studied as a way to reduce high blood pressure,” says Weisenberger. “Researchers included foods [with nutrients] beneficial for blood pressure and limited those suspected as harmful to blood pressure.”

Why it’s a thing: This diet attracts those trying to lower their blood pressure and “anyone who wants a balanced plan based around everyday foods and without a list of strict rules.” Since the initial studies, “DASH has also been linked to less type 2 diabetes, better heart health and smaller waist sizes,” she adds.

What it takes: Encouraged foods include fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and vegetable oils. The diet recommends limiting foods high in saturated and trans fats, added sugars or sodium. It limits sodium intake to 2,300 mg; some, such as those 65 and older, may benefit from going as low as 1,500 mg per day.

The diet was not designed for weight loss purposes, but, if that’s a goal, Weisenberger says, then create portion-size and calorie budgets to meet your needs. Although no foods are off limits, certain foods can be limited to meet goals; these include fatty meats like sausage and prime rib, coconut oil and other tropical oils, full-fat dairy products and added sugars from foods such as pastries and sugar-sweetened beverages.

What's my ideal diet? Jump to: 

Gluten free Paleo
Mediterranean Plant-based
Intermittent fasting DASH